Sunday, April 10, 2011

Paying It Forward with Music

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," bringing you a strict diet of old-time religion ... emphasis on the old. Accept no substitutes, all of our deities are time-tested with high approval ratings.

I don't have much time today, because Heir is sick and needs my attention. But I did want to thank those of you who recommended music for my second-hand, gently used MP3 player. Just as with clothing and kitchen supplies, I will never buy new or retail. I'll just wait for someone to outgrow or discard old electronics and basically be a step behind everybody else.

The MP3 player works. I've loaded Faun, Decemberists, Coyote Run, and even a selection of "Leaves of Grass."

Now I'm going to make a suggestion to y'all.

When I listen to Celtic music, I feel myself saying, "Where's the banjo?" That's because I grew up on hillbilly music, bluegrass to be precise. Bluegrass is a fusion of Scottish-Irish and African influences. Because the banjo is an African instrument, albeit modified in its stylistics for bluegrass.

Traditional bluegrass really is hillbilly music, and not many people like big doses of it unless they've got a little hillbilly in them.

In the late 1970s a group of young performers got together and created a sound called New Grass. This was a fusion of bluegrass, reggae, jazz, and country. It surely would have fizzled (and it since has), except the musicians in question were absurdly talented. They were:

John Cowan, vocals. Unparalleled in bluegrass music.
Sam Bush, fiddle and mandolin. A master of both, with jazz stylings. Sam's the one who covers Bob Marley.
Bela Fleck, banjo. He learned jazz banjo, moved to bluegrass, returned to jazz and now plays with the Flecktones.

These three dudes were in a band called The New Grass Revival. They were pretty successful in their time, but they broke up in (I think) 1989. If you watch their videos on YouTube, you can see that John Cowan wore his hair in that classic ugly 1980s style. It doesn't detract from his incredible vocals.

So, we at "The Gods Are Bored" highly recommend that you sample the New Grass Revival. Let me know if you like them. Sam Bush also has a solo album called "Glamor and Grits" that travels new ground, and both Sam and John contributed to a Leftover Salmon album. I could tell you the name of it, but Spare is listening to Doctor Who music on the MP3 right now. She recommends a terrific band called Chameleon Circuit. Nuff said.

Anyone have any idea how many albums I can put on a 5g MP3 player? The clock is still ticking -- I have until April 27 to fill it to the gills.

6 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I love Bela Fleck! He plays classical music on his banjo too. I'll have to check out New Grass Revival for sure. I like bluegrass too -- the traditional stuff, not that speeded-up stuff that Ricky Skaggs plays.

Lavanah said...

Have you ever listened to any klezmer? You might find it alot of fun-if you don't mind not understanding the words.

Meganne said...

I suggest Old Crow Medicine Show and the Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. Also Arcade Fire's Funeral, which has no banjo but is amazing all the same!

The first two are old timey and fantasic.

alex Pendragon said...

What you fail to mention (and I have just discovered) is that New Grass Revival included Leon Russell on several albums. THAT spurs my interest!

JaAnBe said...

I saw Malinky in Romney. Don't know if you'll find them to download or not, but I'd recommend. And Dougie Maclean and Bonnie Rideout.

Victoria said...

I have a 2 gig MP3 player and it can fit about 400 songs on it (don't know what that is in albums). So you can probably get about 1000 songs on a 5 gig one. Say 20 songs an album, that's around 50 albums.